You might have seen that CBD is more popular than Beyoncé
. That’s at least according to Google’s search trends
, which also show that CBD’s rise to popularity started to pick up significantly in 2018. But despite a couple of years of intense demand, information about CBD is still a lot harder to come by than Beyoncé coverage. As I’ve heard from many of you, being CBD consumers or working in the field, it’s difficult where to even begin.
Why is that? Why are people interested in CBD now? And how come we still know so little about it?
As a component of the cannabis plant, CBD has been around and consumed by people for thousands of years. Still, for most of the 20th century, it wasn’t accepted in most societies until laws and norms started to change most recently. So let’s take a look at how we got here, and why we should talk about CBD now.
Cannabis prohibition threw us decades behind. It’s about time we catch up.
Research into possible medicinal properties of cannabis originated many decades ago. But as cannabis had or has been illegal in many countries around the world, conducting research has been challenging (and still is)
. Progress has been slow, therefore much is still unknown.
CBD, short for cannabidiol, was first isolated from cannabis in 1940
. But it wasn’t until 1963 that researchers led by the Israeli chemist Raphael Mechoulam
established the chemical structure of CBD
(which, by the way, was isolated from Lebanese hashish). “I was surprised to find out that while morphine had been isolated from opium 150 years previously, and cocaine had been isolated 100 years previously, the chemistry of cannabis was not well known
,” Mechoulam said at a congress on epilepsy in 2018. The year after CBD, his research also identified THC, the only psychoactive and most famous compound in cannabis.
Mechoulam’s team also started looking into the possible medicinal benefits of these cannabinoids. Through tests on rats and mice they found that both CBD and THC had antiepileptic properties. But because of its side effects, they disqualified THC as a possible antiepileptic drug.
Despite these promising findings, cannabis prohibition largely prevented further research and significant progress in many parts of the world. Just as cannabis has most recently been legalized for medicinal and recreational use in certain U.S. states and some other countries, the paradigm has started to shift. Today there is still a lot to explore and catch up on.
Officials figured that cannabis isn’t actually that dangerous, especially not CBD.
When U.S. chief conservative Mitch McConnell is posing in a field of hemp
to reinforce his image of being a “CBD Champion
”, that alone must be indicator enough that everyone and their grandma should have easier access to basic information (and independent journalism!) about CBD. While cannabis had globally been classified a dangerous drug for most of the 20th century (which created an even longer lasting taboo), its legalization has picked up some significant speed in the last couple of decades. So much so that legalization to many almost seems like a no-brainer at this point —
at the very least to enable research, particularly also when it comes to CBD.
A brief timeline:
- In the late 1980s and early 1990s, the endocannabinoid system (ECS) was discovered, which helps regulate certain processes in human bodies like sleep, mood, appetite, pain sensation, reproduction, and more. The ECS is key to why cannabis interacts with the body and mind, though much about how it works exactly is still unknown.
- In 1996, California was the first U.S. state to approve medical cannabis use.
- In 2012, Colorado and Washington were the first two U.S. states to legalize recreational cannabis use.
- In 2013, the CNN story of Charlotte Figi, a Colorado child with severe epilepsy treated with cannabis, first introduced the therapeutic properties of CBD to a broader audience. Charlotte died in 2020 due to what her family thought was Covid-19.
- In 2014, the U.S. Farm Bill allowed pilot programs to grow and study hemp, which kicked off the first wave of CBD products being made in the U.S.
- In June 2018, the World Health Organization (WHO) released a report saying that CBD is generally safe, without abuse potential, and promising as a medical treatment.
- Later that month, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the first CBD drug called Epidiolex for the treatment of seizures associated with two rare and severe forms of epilepsy.
- The 2018 Farm Bill removed hemp from the Controlled Substances Act, as long as it contains no more than 0.3 percent of THC. It essentially legalized CBD sales in the U.S. This move would not have been possible without then Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell pushing it through (seriously, Mitch McConnell out of all people), which some say he did so Kentucky farmers can benefit from the booming interest in CBD.
- At the beginning of 2019, the European Union (EU) added CBD to its Novel Food Catalogue, which means that any product needs to be authorized before entering the European market.
- In December 2020, the U.N. Commission for Narcotic Drugs voted to remove cannabis for medical use from the list of most dangerous drugs.
- Just last week, a bill to regulate CBD as a dietary supplement was reintroduced to the U.S. Congress with bipartisan support. If it passes, it could help consumers with product safety and clearer messaging on labels as well as industry folks with planning and distribution.
At the same time, even though some simplistic headlines and promotions might make CBD look like some kind of miracle drug, it’s not. It likely won’t put you to sleep if you drink ten cups of coffee a day. It probably also won’t cure your anxiety if you’re suffering from trauma you haven’t dealt with. It won’t necessarily make you party like Beyoncé’s Music might
So while CBD is making its way into more and more households, sooner or later in many countries around the world, we just don’t know that much about it. How and when to take it, how it might interact with other drugs, and how it works.
This is why we need to talk about CBD now.
And this is also why CBDossier is here to help you wrap your mind around it and stay up to date with the latest developments. As always, please send me your thoughts and questions
. What is it that you’re googling about CBD?